Vortex, a major enhancement to the 2013 edition of Delcam’s PowerMill CAM system for high speed and five-axis machining, is designed to produce tool paths with a controlled engagement angle. The strategy will be added to the company’s FeatureCAM software for feature-based programming and PartMaker software for programming Swiss-type lathes and turn-mill equipment later in the year.
The strategy is designed to reduce cutting time by maintaining consistent cutting conditions that would normally be possible only for straight-line moves. Additionally, cutting at a more consistent volume removal and feed rate protects the machine, the company says. The strategy also improves tool life by ensuring cutters will never be overloaded. It minimizes the shock loading that can result from changes in the contact angle to prevent chipping of the flutes. Likewise, more stable cutting conditions provide more consistent edge temperatures, thus prolonging the life of the tool coating and minimizing heat damage to the surface of the part. Finally, the ability to use step-downs of two or even three times the tool diameter spreads tool wear evenly over the cutting surface.
The strategy is useful for two- and three-axis roughing, “3+2” area clearance, and rest machining based on stock models or reference tool paths. According to the company, it also benefits from PowerMill’s support for 64-bit computing, multi-processor operation to minimize calculation times, and various options for leads and links. The tool paths can also be used with the step-cutting strategy introduced in PowerMill 2012 R2 to remove material at intermediate slices rather than using a large step-down that can cause terracing.